China backs African bid to suspend Kenya ICC cases
05 November 2013, 08:14
United Nations - China on Monday threw its weight behind an African bid to suspend cases facing President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It said the "dignity" of President Kenyatta and Ruto had to be respected by the UN Security Council and the ICC.
African nations have circulated a draft Security Council resolution which would call for ICC charges against the two to be deferred for one year.
The campaign has already been backed by Russia, which like China is not an ICC member.
The Security Council should "actively and positively" support the demand made by the African Union and Kenya, China's UN ambassador Liu Jieyi told a press conference.
They face charges of orchestrating political violence after a disputed 2007 election that left at least 1,100 dead. They deny the charges. Both were elected to office this year.
China is not an ICC member and has major interests in Africa and Liu said "we are a good friend and good partner of the African countries."
African nations have cited Kenya's role in battling Al Shabaab militants in Somalia and the need to maintaining stability in Kenya as a reason for suspending the charges. Al Shabaab said it carried out a shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September which left 67 dead.
The Security Council should allow Kenyan leaders to "concentrate on discharging their constitutional duties," Liu said.
"The Kenyan leaders were democratically elected by the Kenyan people and their dignity should be fully protected and respected," he said.